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No Place Like ‘Hytte’: A Tiny Cabin in the Norwegian Woods

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No Place Like ‘Hytte’: A Tiny Cabin in the Norwegian Woods

December 24, 2020

Hytte is the Norwegian word for cabin, and more than a quarter of all Norwegians own at least one of these rustic getaway homes, notes Oslo-based based architects Mork-Ulnes Architects, who recently designed a tiny, 900-square-foot model for an American couple who moved abroad seven years ago.

For clients Scott Young and wife Christine Griffin Young, the challenge was to marry the design of a traditional hytte (compact and efficient) with the wilderness landscape that surrounds it.

The solution? The cabin “breaks apart the traditional rectangular cabin building plan into a pinwheel which radiates into the landscape to both frame four distinct views—Mylla Lake, the rolling hillside, the sky, and a towering forest—and to form wind- and snow-sheltered outdoor patios,” say the architects, who also have an office in San Francisco.

Photography by Bruce Damonte courtesy of Mork-Ulnes Architects.

The exterior is sided with untreated pine and the roof also is clad in wood.
Above: The exterior is sided with untreated pine and the roof also is clad in wood.

The typical Norwegian hytte is small and cramped (“usually dark with pine clad walls, small windows and low ceilings,” the architects say) and lacking modern amenities such as running water (think: outhouse). But there’s no law that says it must be so.

The house has three bedrooms, two full baths, a combined kitchen and living room, and a sauna.

Planning rules required a gable roof, which the architects &#8
Above: Planning rules required a gable roof, which the architects “split” to create a pinwheel-shaped floor plan.

“It’s a great place to visit year round in both good weather and bad,” says homeowner Scott Young. “The views to the outside make it feel like you are outside when you are in. It is a cozy cabin for our family of four and dog, but can comfortably accommodate eight to ten people.”

 The design created two outdoor terraces, each with two walls to block wind and a half-gable roof to divert snow.
Above: The design created two outdoor terraces, each with two walls to block wind and a half-gable roof to divert snow.
Windows in the bunkroom frame the woodland views. &#8
Above: Windows in the bunkroom frame the woodland views. “The wings of the house engage four distinct characters of the site: the great room looks onto Mylla Lake, the guest room looks towards the rolling hillside, the kids’ room looks up at the sky, and the bedroom has a private view of the towering forest,” the architects say.
&#8
Above: “During the cold winter months, when the cabin is half buried in snow and the surrounding landscape is white, the family goes on long ski tours and warms up in the sauna afterwards,” the architects say.
The cabin sits at the edge of Mylla Lake, an hour&#8
Above: The cabin sits at the edge of Mylla Lake, an hour’s drive north of Oslo.
Custom milled windows and exterior doors are by Nyhuset Bruk.
Above: Custom milled windows and exterior doors are by Nyhuset Bruk.
The untreated pine siding will weather to a silvery gray over time.
Above: The untreated pine siding will weather to a silvery gray over time.

See more of our favorite landscapes in Scandinavia:

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